Howdy Partners #3: Ideal Partner Profile (IPP)

Howdy Partners #3: Ideal Partner Profile (IPP)

Multiple Contributors 28 min

You’ve heard of ICP, but for partner professionals the name of the game is IPP. We discuss its importance, tactics to build your profile out, and why it’s important to consider upon program conception.

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3 key takeaways

  1. Develop your IPP (Ideal Partner Profile) as soon as possible so you can start setting goals around it.
  2. Your IPP sets the stage for just about everything you do with your partner program. It’s a "north star," or a source of truth, you can measure everything else against.
  3. If you don’t create an IPP you won’t know what to look at and you’ll start looking at yourself.
  4. Leading with value is much harder if you don’t know who you’re serving. With a defined IPP your outreach, value creation, and relationship building can become more precise.
  5. Just like an ICP, an IPP can evolve over time so make sure you’re revisiting.
  6. Your IPP is your North Star. Revisit often to make sure your trajectory is up-to-date given new data, learnings, and any business/market changes.

Full transcript:

Tom Burgess 00:00

Ah howdy partners, and welcome to another lovely installment of how many partners? We’ve got. We’ll wait a long time no see where were you the last time when Ben and I were recording.

Will Taylor 00:33

I caught COVID And I was recovering and then I went to Austin, Texas, unfortunately didn’t get myself a cowboy hat. But I want to for exactly this podcast.

Tom Burgess 00:46

That is a little it’s a little disappointing to hear you were in literally the the, the hotspot of representing our brand. And you didn’t walk back with anything to represent yourself. That’s fine. At some point we will get cowboy hats and then then welcome back.

Ben Wright 01:05

Hello, everyone. How’s it going? It’s nice to have a nice to have well back with us. Again, it was a little bit lonely last time, but we we carried things along. Well, Tom, I thought yeah. Nice to have a nice, I

Tom Burgess 01:16

think he would be proud. I mean, I don’t want to set the bar too high. It was it was a little bit lonely not having his beautiful face. But we’re happy.

Ben Wright 01:25

I think it could be the most I think it could be the most downloaded. I won’t promote it.

Tom Burgess 01:35

Well, that’s fine. We will promote it and in the power combine of two versus three is going to supercharge everything that we’ve done so far. Well, everyone welcome we’ve got another great episode in front of you. I apologize if everyone’s watching video. The having a seven month old downstairs and the spit up seems like I’ve been through the wringer on my Thursday, but

Ben Wright 01:57

I didn’t. I didn’t actually see that until you you pointed out it kind of it kind of melted into the background a little bit. But

Tom Burgess 02:03

I was looking, I figured I’d make the disclaimer early. So I was on. I was on a call. And we were like, oh well you have on your sweatshirt or what have you. What do you have on your sleeve? And I’m like, Well, do you want the truth? Or do you want the not truth and anyway, given the truth, but the baby is sleeping right now hopefully you and Will’s at school. So hopefully no distractions from the toddlers, your son.

Will Taylor 02:26

I’m not a toddler.

Ben Wright 02:28

Second reason when you say I’m always like, what was what was this school? I’m like, I didn’t realize what we’re still doing school is about to congratulate you.

Tom Burgess 02:35

We’ll call him will will, then middle will I’m actually will too. But I go by Tom. Just a fun fact. Anyway, so today we’re talking. Today we’re talking IPP, and I’m gonna hand it over to will, but for brand new listeners or listeners that don’t know what IPP stands for? What’s let’s start there? Well, IPP.

Will Taylor 03:00

Yeah, and this is a topic that I like talking about, because it’s so foundational. And we’ll get into the implications of what developing this kind of resource does for your partner program, but an ideal partner profile. So just like a business builds an ideal customer profile, partner, professionals need to build an ideal partner profile. And it’ll incorporate the ICP that your company has created. But it will be, of course, a bit different because you’re focusing on partners and not just clients. And the reason that this is important is because it sets the stage for just about everything that you do within the program, you know, why do we engage with these partners? That’s in the IPP? What are the messages that resonate with both our partners and their clients? That’ll be built within the IPP? And then also, of course, you know, what does the client actually get for value in engaging through this interaction, while that will come from the IPP? And so what it does for the rest of the program is you have this source of truth that will be that North Star for any outreach that you do, any programs that you do any onboarding that you do, and this is exactly why it should be a first step when you join a company as a partnerships professional, even if you’re joining an existing one review the IPP, maybe it’s needing to evolve to the current state because just like an ICP, and IPP can evolve over time, so that’s how I like to think about it. And you know why it’s so foundational, because yeah, there’s so many implications outside of that.

Ben Wright 04:42

Yeah, I agree. I think you I think you made a really good point from like the work the way that you use the word foundational because I think there’s there’s oftentimes a lot of partners that you could go after, right? Like we all know there’s there’s so many channels in the partnership world that you could spend time and time again gym pursuing but yeah, I think foundational is the key word here. I think it guides or provides a cornerstone for, for all the activity that flows from your from your partner program. So I guess with that being said, Well, how do you like? How do you think about creating the IPP? Like, what exercise? What activities do you go through to really create that? Yeah,

Will Taylor 05:19

so to create the ideal partner profile, first thing, grab the ICP, if your company does not have an ICP, which I experienced from one of my organizations, then you should try and build it or you know, build at least an MVP of that ICP. And what you’ll be able to do here is understand, you know, what is, of course, that persona of the individual, but you’ll be able to pretty quickly understand the other types of companies that will be engaging with that type of client. And so you know, if you’re selling sales technology, and its sales technology to the SMB space, while you know, there are other technologies, that service that SMB, salesperson, and there are consultants and trainers and influencers that will all fall into servicing that similar ICP. So grab that ICP really understand where they get value from your company. And then that’ll then translate, of course to Okay, well, where are those other companies that you can engage with.

Ben Wright 06:28

And I can maybe provide just like a, I guess, a functional example, or a real life example, because, as already pretty knows I’m in the early stages of building the partnership program to help Scout but just to, I guess, illuminate who our ICP is at HelpScout. So we’re a customer support tool that primarily plays in the SMB space, so one to 500 employees, and then across some very specific verticals, so b2b SaaS, e commerce, financial services, real estate education. So to Will’s point, like, I think that’s the kind of information that you’re looking for, from your marketing your sales team. When you’re asking what is our what is our ICP? And in actual fact, like, if you haven’t on ACP, one that would concern me slightly, but secondarily like it, it probably makes your job that much more difficult. So, fingers crossed, you go into an organization as a partnership professional, and they’ve kind of dialed in the ACP because it makes your job your job far easier, I would say and, and actually creating.

Will Taylor 07:29

Absolutely, and, yeah, go ahead, Tom.

Tom Burgess 07:32

Well, I was just, I wanted to pose a question. Because I think, you know, what we’re talking about in terms of, you know, creating the IPP tailoring that around the ICP that your company hopefully already has, you know, is there, is there any thought to the idea of, of, you know, let’s say you’re just launching strategic partnerships, it’s, it’s, you know, to Ben’s point, you know, he’s, he’s, he’s that helps out to help kind of build that out. Talk about talk about like, when, when is it time to do that? Like, are we talking in the first month of strategies or strategizing for the partnership programs that you’re about to launch? Are we talking about revising that at month six, because there’s something to say, and Ben, and I rift on this, you know, last time we were talking about the tearing model, is that it’s got to be this work in progress. So, you know, the idea of having partners in understanding, you know, what partnerships work? What don’t and kind of tailoring that down? Is there something Is that Is that acceptable? Right? Like, create something one v1, see that that maybe needs to change? You know, what does that look like?

Will Taylor 08:37

Oh, yeah, absolutely. And I think, to your the first part of your question, I would say, develop that as soon as possible, because then you can start setting goals alongside of that, like, you know, as a partner person, I’m going to spend 10%, on these communities 20% on these technologies, and the 70% on these agencies. And the reason that you’ll be able to organize that is because you’ll understand the value chain that the client gets, and the partner gets in your team gets all through building that ideal partner profile. And so do it with as soon as possible, I would say, of course, once you’re situated within the organization, and you have your internal relationships built, then get to that building, because as you set those goals, it’ll relate to, you know, the profiles that you create through that process. And so, absolutely, you should be updating it. And you should do the same for ICP as well, because, you know, maybe you release, let’s call it three features that then allow you to break into a new market, maybe that really takes off and that new market gives you you know, 80% more clients. So now your ICP should definitely change because your business is thriving in a different area. So the same thing goes for your ideal partner profile where, you know, maybe at your current stage of the company, agencies are going to really help out to bring that success to the client and Um, you know, make sure that you have these amazing stories with clients. But as you scale, maybe the next phase is it could be communities to really push out that message could be, you know, a more ideal partner. And so absolutely, I think you should revise it. Because not only does the business change and the service that you offer, but also the strategy at this stage will change as well. So, absolutely start within the first few weeks, I’d say and then revise it as you go six months or so?

Ben Wright 10:34

Yeah, I’d echo that. Because I think, I think ultimately, as well, like, we all like to think that when you first map an ideal partner profile, it’s going to be the perfect one, and you’ve got it correct. But I think a large part of your job, especially in like the first six to even nine months is to test that hypothesis, meaning that like, I could have built out an ideal partner profile that says like, okay, because we sell into SMB businesses, I think, and this is actually what I’m doing for HelpScout. At the moment, I think the SMBs, outsource it, and they use marketing agencies, and they have those those people as trusted advisors, so those would be the people that Help Scout could be referred by right. So those are some of the hypotheses that I’m testing at the moment. And a lot of that is accomplished in some even some of the outbound that you do to agencies, right? So you can see pretty quickly when I’m reaching out to agencies, you’ll get a response like, oh, yeah, that makes perfect sense to me as well. Or you might get responses that are like, that makes zero sense, you’re kind of barking up the wrong tree. So for me, those are the tests that you need to conduct very early on or early on, and then double down on where you see success. So technology partners, great example, HelpScout, we’ve got loads of technology partners, we need to do go to market with all of the major ones, right? We’re already starting to see lead generation happened from those technology partners, which says to me, like, great, right, like we have got a partner and an ideal partner profile that we need double down on, that might not be the case with all your tests. So to Will’s point, I think you establish it early on, but really your role is to test those as early on as possible, and then make the decision to draw pool, or go optimal,

Tom Burgess 12:09

so to speak. Sure. So what I’m hearing is early on, it should actually be named this somewhat ideal partner profile, because you’re gonna be revising, right? Yeah. Correct. Should be someone else.

Will Taylor 12:19

Yeah. Yeah. Current partner profile, best guess. Best guess I

Tom Burgess 12:25

should be it should be the it should be current customer profile as is.

Ben Wright 12:33

Yeah, yeah. It’s, I mean, it’s so like, ideal pot and profile is such like, I think it just wants to marry to this market and tell which is ICP, when an actual fact, like, ideal is probably not accomplished until two or three years on into a partnership ready, when you can say, like, with a certain degree of certainty, so yeah, I agree. It’s probably not the best the best expression for it to be. Yeah, we’re gonna vary

Will Taylor 12:54

in time. Yep. Yeah,

Ben Wright 12:56

yeah. Yeah, exactly.

Tom Burgess 12:58

So let’s, let’s talk about the let’s, let’s quickly touch on, you know, the reverse of this, is, what if you, what if you don’t create an ideal partner profile? What is what does that do? Are you behind the eight ball? What can you expect in terms of kind of like roadblocks or friction points? If that’s not on your roadmap in the first few months?

Will Taylor 13:21

Yeah, so I love this. And this is a narrative that I think a lot of people don’t always consider in, you know, the application of it. But it’s very important. And if you don’t have an ideal partner profile, what you’ll be forced to do is you’ll be forced to look at what do I know most? Well, that’s about my company. And you know what I know. And it’s not necessarily what these partners care about, or the clients care about. And it’s a trap that a lot of salespeople fall into where they reach out to a prospect, and it’s all, hey, here’s why we’re great. Here’s who we work with. So do you want to talk? And if you don’t have an ideal partner profile, then you’ll probably do the same in your outreach to partners, because that’s all you know, you haven’t gone through the process of thinking about what does the partner gain in this interaction? How does the client win through the partner in this interaction, and so translating a message of value to these potential partners is more difficult, because you haven’t actually gone through the process of formalizing that. On the other side is internally, so if you were to do a presentation internally, and you don’t truly understand the value chain between the partner, the client and you, then you’re not going to get buy in it all be us, us, us. And it’ll all be theory at that point as well. And so when you’re going to ask for resources, or to try and get, you know, at least one internal champion, you won’t even be able to sell this vision of, you know, this is why it actually works and what there’s this, that there’s this value chain As well, the third area is, let’s say you do get a partner, let’s say your outreach is bad, you don’t have internal alignment, but you still land a partner, because you know, they’re Canadian, or, you know, they’re just open to the conversation. And from there, if you don’t have this Northstar, this understanding of that value chain, then when you’re setting expectations and doing onboarding, it will focus again on your business. And it won’t focus in on the client winning or the partners business. And again, you could still, you know, Frankenstein it together as you go build a ship as it’s flying. But if you don’t have that structure, then it’ll be very messy. And you don’t want to bring that messiness to your partner, because they need clarity, you’re approaching them with this new initiative, you know, they’re operating business as usual. And you’re coming in saying, hey, let’s do a partnership. And so if you can’t bring structure, they’re going to fall off, and they’re not going to activate, they’re not going to perform. And this is why it’s so critical, because it’s almost like that domino effect of your outreach will suck, you won’t get internal buy in and your onboarding, will fall flat. And so while you’re all of your programs, because you don’t understand, and you can’t convey the message of here’s the value chain. So I think those are the three main areas that I would impact the most. Yeah, and if your

Tom Burgess 16:26

bottom line is, if you’re, if you’re struggling to get partners, just go to Canada reached out to there,

Ben Wright 16:34

I do. I do. I do want to piggyback on there well, because again, like this is all very topical for me at the moment very top of mine. So another channel that we’ve identified where we’ve had a ton of inbound interest, which is always a good sign, right, and then does somewhat for establishing at least, what might be a good a good partner for you are BPOS. So outsourcing organizations that outsource customer service, obviously, we’re a customer support tool to help scout. And what we’ve quickly found out is that like, whenever they’re in with customers, customers will complain about, hey, my, my customer support software is too expensive, or is too cumbersome. And in that scenario, those BPOS asked what other customer support software do you recommend, right? But to Will’s point, like when I’m doing outbound to BPOS have not considered this, that is the message that you need to conveys, you need to you need to understand what scenario HelpScout will be brought up in and then also convey the Benefit They’re gonna get, which in this case is, you might as well get referral commission, if you’re going to make those referrals anyway, if you’re going to if you’re going to give him that advice. But also, you’re going to give your clients a better experience and recommend a better support solution, which ultimately is going to make your job easier as a as a BPO. Right. And also make you more of a trusted adviser to your to your customers. So that’s really kind of, like I said, top of mind for me. And as you were talking about that will it all connects together? Right? Like you establish your profile, you know what the value proposition is? And then that feeds into the messaging when you’re reaching out to partners. So, so yeah, I totally agree with that, for sure.

Tom Burgess 18:08

Yeah. And if I could tell you like, if more if more partnership led organizations can start thinking about their partners as or modeling them to be trusted advisors. And, and just like multi solutions. Consultants, it, it works so much better than just trying to sell a solution to sell a solution. So I think you nailed that, that resonates with me completely. So with that, let’s go ahead.

Will Taylor 18:37

As you can to mention it, it’s a good segue into, you know, like a good summary of the components. Because I know you mentioned you know, take the ICP and then figure out those those watering holes. But yeah, I would love to dive into that value chain that I was mentioning. So let’s say you determine the ICP, translating into Okay, here are the other watering holes that service a similar ICP. Why do they service that ICP? What is the client getting from, you know, these other organizations, you can probably figure out their value prop. But more importantly, for the client, how do they win more, because I’m working with this partner, it has to start with the client. There’s a reason that I bring it up first, where, what is the client value of that joint value proposition? You know, if I’m a technology and I work with an agency, and they do technology input implementations, that one’s pretty straightforward, you know, the client gets better use of their platform, you know, it’s more well integrated or implemented and they are able to actually get you know, the full value of it versus being busy with their day to day and not getting you know, all the training or getting all the use. So, that is the value proposition that you need to understand is Okay, if I work through with these other technology companies, what is that value for that client? If I work with these agencies? What is that value for the client, and not just from the agency, but for us working together. And again, this will help with your outreach and the programs that you develop? And to layer on to that the next thing that you should understand or determine in that value chain is how does the partner win? You know, do they get more exposure? Do they get to build another service? Do they have a more robust offering or lease stickier? Because they have another integration? Whatever it is, there needs to be business value for the partner. And again, this is in a very deliberate order, what’s the customer value for our joint value proposition? What’s the partner value, and actually taking the efforts to build this partnership with us? And then of course, determine what’s our value. And the interesting thing is, if you start with what’s my value through these partnerships, if you start with that, you’ll probably think of, you know, we get more clients or more revenue. But if you’re going through this value chain exercise, where you start with the client and go to the partner, you’ll probably come up with a bit of a different answer where it’s worth stickier we get longer lifetime clients are happier clients, or you know, they get more use of the tool. And so that I think is very critical. Because, again, when you go and present this to the customer success team, it’s not just hey, there’s revenue over here, this is why we’re doing this now go introduce our partners to our clients. It’s, hey, what you care about, I know exactly how it can work. And then it’s much easier to translate. So yeah.

Ben Wright 21:42

Man, I love I love that you brought out because I’m going through a process of like, talking to all CSMs and all account managers at the moment of like, why, why integration partnership model, like why you should be bringing these integration partners up. And I’m just pulling up some stats here now, but I can give you high level, I don’t think it’s confidential. In my view, we might have to cut this out. But if not then downgrade. But I’ll logo chump percentage over the past two years i Help Scout when they have an integration installed is like I think it’s like 29% or something like that. But I’ll logo Trump percentage, past two years with no integration integrations used is 36%. So there’s like a 7% difference when like when our customers have integrations installed. So it gets that it gets back to the part of like, I think a lot of sales leaders view view partnerships that has this transactional model, which is great, and it can be like a lead generation engine. But there’s a lot on the back end, we’re actually like once somebody’s bought help scale and integrate HubSpot and integrate our call, for example, that client it becomes so much more painful for them to move to a different solution because now you’ve got a disconnect, err, call them reconnect it like you’ve got transfer all the debt. So like there’s, there’s additional things and those things for me are even more tangible than like the lead sharing piece and even more beneficial. So yeah, I love that that point, what is definitely something that I’m I’m kind of digging into at the moment from from a data perspective.

Tom Burgess 23:05

Yeah. nailed that. Okay, I mean, we’ll take aways, we kind of just talked on that. What what are people going to get out of this? Why is IPP important? And what can our listeners expect to to take away? Yeah, so

Will Taylor 23:19

let’s do let’s do a summary. So the first step is, gather your ICP, study it, understand it, and figure out what types of companies also service a similar ICP. The next step is understand, what does the client get from those other organizations, which will then help you determine what’s a general joint value proposition for those tech partners, those agency partners and so on. So again, starting with that client value, then determine what the partner value is, again, is it more services they can develop? Is it another technology they can sell to their clients and offer to their clients? What is that value for the partner as well? And then determine what is the value for us, which will be a bit more for the internal stuff. And the way that you can apply this is when you go to do outreach to a potential partner, it will not be, hey, here’s why we’re great. And who we work with, you should partner with us. It’s, hey, I have this idea. You can win through this, your clients win through this, do you want to talk about it or you know, there’s an opportunity here, we should at least discuss it that’s much more compelling to convert to a meeting. It will also then inform your onboarding. So you can build a much more clear onboarding process for setting the right expectations with your partners. And then also going internally, you can convey this message of value for either the sales team and the customers customer success team, whoever it is, of, hey, this is the joint value. This is why we work with this type of partner. And here’s how it impacts the client and impacts us as well. So the summary is take those steps build that profile I’ll use that in those three general areas. And of course, like we talked about the start, every six months or so, review it, you know, take 3060 minutes and just think on, is this working? Do we need to tweak some of these things? And I’ll layer in a bit of a bonus, you can, as you’re doing this research, as you take a look at these different companies, and understand the joint value proposition, also start to look at, you know, how are they actually going to market? What is the lead process look like? What is their pricing like, because that’ll, of course, factor into the other programs that you run, but I’d say that’s a bit further down the line. But keeping an eye on it could be good, because the gifts that you give to partners, which I’m sure we’ll talk about in the future, will relate to, you know, what are the gaps? Or what are they like doing already? So good to note those in the ideal partner profile? Because then that could inform or generate some ideas for future programs for you.

Tom Burgess 25:59

Love it. Love it, then any, any final words? No,

Ben Wright 26:05

I think we covered that. I think that should give everybody a good kind of boilerplate to follow, especially if you’re at the stage of relaunching or even starring upon a program. I think those are some easy steps to take and Will’s point, I think, yes, done with the ICP, bringing your marketing team, they should have that kind of down to an art hopefully. So that can that can definitely be a resource for you. But yeah, that then start building from there given some of the steps that was given them, love it.

Tom Burgess 26:31

Love it. So everyone, just to recap, don’t skip this, right. IPP is very important, especially as you’re getting started building out partnerships, you need to have a firm understanding of who you’re trying to target, why you’re trying to target them, and then start with them. Right, start with your customers go back to the partner, then what does it mean to you and then hopefully, you get that internal buy in and it’s like an oil change every six months. Go back, revise, refresh, start to think about if that makes sense and build. So thank you for listening. We hope you enjoyed another lovely rendition of howdy partners and we will catch you guys next time. Catch you guys and gals, everyone. next time.

Multiple Contributors 28 min

Howdy Partners #3: Ideal Partner Profile (IPP)

You've heard of ICP, but for partner professionals the name of the game is IPP. We discuss its importance, tactics to build your profile out, and why it's important to consider upon program conception.

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